Death in Yellowstone

  • by Lee H. Whittlesey
  • Narrated by Stephen R. Thorne
  • 13 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The chilling tome that launched an entire genre of books about the often gruesome, but always tragic ways people have died in our national parks, this updated edition of the classic includes calamities in Yellowstone from the past 16 years, including the infamous grizzly bear attacks in the summer of 2011, as well as a fatal hot springs accident in 2000. In these accounts, written with sensitivity as cautionary tales about what to do and what not to do in one of our wildest national parks, Lee H. Whittlesey recounts deaths ranging from tragedy to folly - from being caught in a freak avalanche to the goring of a photographer who just got a little too close to a bison. Armchair travelers and park visitors alike will be fascinated by this important book detailing the dangers awaiting in our first national park.

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What the Critics Say

"The most fascinating book ever written about Yellowstone Park and its environs." (Journal Of The West)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating book

Any additional comments?

Narration was good, easy to listen to and get absorbed into the stories. Some chapters were more interesting than others, but that's okay - different strokes for different folks. It's definitely a book that I'll recommend to my friends and acquaintances who are interested in this topic. I thought the entire book would be about dumb tourists and was pleasantly surprised to hear about accidents, the whims of mother nature, dumb park employees, and criminal shenanigans in or near the park. It turned out to be more of a diverse book than I originally thought. We're still hearing stories in the news about tourists who die from falling into hot springs or who provoke bison, so I imagine there will be plenty of fodder for the next edition. I enjoyed how the chapters ended by the author reminding us of key takeaways such as 'don't climb over safety barriers in search of the perfect selfie - if you die and your family sues, don't expect to win' (I'm paraphrasing that, but it is one of the key messages of the book - and it's sad that the message continues to be relevant).

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- Christine Newton

Heading to Yellowstone?

The first half of this book is an inventory of man losing the battle against nature. Wild animals, boiling mud pots, roaring rivers, precipitous drops, exposure, avalanches and even falling trees take their bites out of humanity. Many of these deaths are due to people not taking the wilderness seriously, as the author is quick to point out. Put your infant on the back of a bison or under the nose of a bear for a cute photo? Climb over railings for a better view? Head out hiking drunk and in the dark without any gear? Do you really think the warnings do not apply to you? I well remember stories of my sister in the family station wagon playing patty-cake with a Yellowstone bear through a closed window while our mother looked on in horror and I slept peacefully in the family tent only a few yards away. We were lucky none of us are included in this book.

That first half should be required reading for anyone entering the park. Sobering, yes, but after hearing and seeing what foolish activity people try, it might keep us all safer. Sadly, many of the deaths are of park employees who should, in many case, known better. Not all of the death are due to careless or reckless behavior - sometimes nature is capricious and the innocent pay the ultimate price. Those tales are especially tragic.

The second half is less of man vs nature and more of man on his own. Wagon and horse accidents, murders, suicides, and industrial accidents have all taken a toll. The majority of these, especially the accidents, took place during the early, wild-west, days of the park. This section was necessary for the author's stated goal of covering all of the deaths in Yellowstone but it is more in line with what you would face in any western territory in the early 20th century and therefore not as engaging. The author, thankfully, has intentionally excluded automobile, snow mobile and similar vehicular accidents.

The narrator was fine, except that he consistently mispronounces Grand Tetons - it is TEE-tonz not TEET-enz. That drove me crazy - and I assume it did the author as well.

I hate to say it was an entertaining listen, because that sounds a bit morbid. But it was very interesting and as I am headed back into the park in a week, I hope I act with more caution that I might have otherwise.
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- Pamela

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-31-2016
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio